Fireplaces, Space Heaters

Electric Fireplace or Space Heater: 9 Things You Should Know

An electric fireplace or space heater can be an ideal solution for those looking for a reliable and efficient way to heat their home. With the rising energy cost, these options provide a convenient and cost-effective way to keep your home warm when the temperatures drop.

Not only do electric fireplaces and space heaters provide an effective heating source, but they also add to the aesthetic of any room with their modern design. With so many options available in the market today, it can be difficult to decide which is right.

Most of the distinctions lie in external characteristics, while most of what makes them alike lies in how they operate – thus making it essential to consider all details when choosing which one best suits your needs!

Electric Fireplace Or Space Heater

Key Differences Between an Electric Fireplace vs Space Heater

When deciding between an electric fireplace or space heater, it helps first to consider what needs to be heated up. Although these electrical appliances generate warmth, their purpose and appearance vary greatly. To find the best item for your needs, you must assess exactly what heating is required for your situation.

Space heaters are a great way to stay warm without the worry of an open flame. Perfect for when your radiator isn’t cutting it, they provide warmth indoors and outdoors as long as there is electricity. The fan mechanism emits hot air upwards while cold air falls, creating a cozy atmosphere in no time! Now you can enjoy snuggly evenings even during those frosty winter months!

How Space Heaters Work

One of the most important things to consider when buying an electric fireplace or space heater is which type best suits your needs. There are four main types of electric space heaters: convection, radiant, fan-forced, and infrared heaters. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to evaluate which is right for your home. While some space heaters have a remote control, most don’t.

Convection Space Heaters

Convection space heaters use heated air currents to warm up a room or area. These units are great for large spaces since they create a warm air circulation that helps keep the temperature even throughout the room.

However, convection units are more expensive than other types of space heaters, making them better suited for larger areas where cost isn’t as much of an issue.

Radiant Space Heaters

Radiant space heaters use infrared radiation to warm objects directly in their path without first heating the air around them. This makes them great for smaller spaces since they don’t require as much energy as convection units to warm up a room or area effectively.

However, radiant units can be dangerous if placed too close to furniture or other flammable materials since they emit direct waves of infrared radiation, which can catch fire easily if not monitored properly.

Fan-Forced Space Heaters

Fan-forced electric heaters use electric coils or fins that are heated by electricity and then circulated by fans throughout the room or area being heated.

These units are great for quickly warming up smaller spaces since they don’t require as much energy as convection models but still provide enough warmth for smaller areas like bedrooms or living rooms. The only downside is that these types of units tend to be louder than other types due to their fan components, which can sometimes be annoying.

Infrared Heater

An infrared heater is a type of electric space heater that uses infrared radiation to heat objects in the room rather than directly heating the room’s air. Infrared heaters provide a more efficient and cost-effective way to heat an area, as they do not waste energy heating unnecessary air.

The radiant heat emitted by an infrared heater is absorbed directly by the people and objects in the room, providing a quick, comfortable warmth.

How Electric Fireplaces Work

Electric fireplaces are much like space heaters – they use an electrical current to create and disperse warmth. To warm up a room, these marvels of technology draw in air from the surrounding area and warm it using heating coils before expelling it back into the room for uninterrupted thermal energy production.

While the best electric fireplaces will adequately keep up to 400 square feet cozy and comfortable, their reach is unfortunately limited beyond that.

A freestanding electric fireplace heater is similar to a space heater. They are both portable, and you can move them from the living room to any room in the house.

An electric fireplace insert fits into an existing fireplace. These models look like real log sets. Some even use water vapor to simulate steam.

Electric Elements & Heat Fans

Most realistic electric fireplaces use two main components to create their flame effect—electric elements and heat fans. The electric fireplaces consist of led lights that produce a wide range of colors from orange, yellow, red, and blue, depending on the model. You can control the flame effects with remote control, including flame color, speed, intensity, and heat output.

These led lights can be programmed to stay still or flicker like real flames. Some even feature crackle sound effects for added realism! All this is projected onto a reflective screen in front of the unit that amplifies the effect of the “flames” and makes them appear brighter.

Electric fireplaces that utilize infrared technology rather than an in-built fan system have plenty of additional benefits. A quartz bulb is fitted to produce infrared light, which warms the air around it for instant heat without any noise or disruption. Additionally, these models boast a larger heating area than other electric fireplaces.

Electric Fireplace with Infrared Heater

An electric fireplace with an infrared heater uses infrared radiation to provide warmth. It emits invisible infrared waves absorbed by objects in the room, radiating gentle heat that warms people and objects in the area. This type of heater is energy efficient and requires less electricity than traditional heating systems.

Although locating an infrared fireplace is relatively simple, discovering an infrared space heater requires more effort. Nevertheless, these heaters exist and utilize the same engineering as electric fireplaces – plus all the extra advantages that come with them. The light from these tools helps warm your body through its absorbent nature, making it far more efficient than a regular fan system at heating areas quickly.

Safety Features & Other Benefits

Unlike traditional fireplaces, electric units don’t require ventilation systems. They can be placed virtually anywhere in your home without worrying about running venting pipes or chimneys through walls or ceilings.

They also don’t need special installation since all you have to do is plug the power cord in and turn them on—no smoke detectors are required! Be careful using an extension cord so as not to overload or short circuits a wall outlet.

Additionally, most models come equipped with safety features such as auto shut-off timers and temperature sensors that help prevent overheating and prevent fires from occurring if left unattended for too long.

Safest Space Heater

Heater Power Output: Electric Fireplace vs Space Heater

When deciding which type of electric fireplace or space heater to buy, it’s important to know the power output of different heaters. Understanding electric fireplaces and space heaters’ power output will help you decide which is best. Let’s look at how these two heating sources measure up regarding their heater power output.

Electric Fireplace Power Output

Electric fireplaces are often selected for the atmosphere they create in a room rather than the amount of heat they produce. Electric fireplaces usually have a maximum wattage of 1500 watts. You can plug them into a 120-volt electrical outlet or hardwire them to a dedicated breaker. Most electric fireplaces need about 11 amps to operate the heater.

Most electric fireplaces have two heat settings: 750 watts and 1500 watts. Most don’t have a digital thermostat, but the ones allow you to set a temperature of 68 to 88 degrees. The wattage they use determines how much electricity your electric fireplace will consume when running and is usually listed on the product’s label or manual.

Space Heater Power Output

Space heaters come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share one thing – they generate heat quickly and effectively. The wattage of space heaters varies greatly depending on the size and type of heater you choose but can range anywhere from 800-3000 watts. Generally speaking, larger units require more power, while smaller units require less power.

Like electric fireplaces, most electric space heaters use a maximum of 1500 watts and need a 120-volt electrical outlet. However, those space heaters larger than 1500 watts will need a 240-volt circuit. These are not typically for indoor use and are generally found in workshops or garages.

Unlike electric fireplaces, space heaters often have more than two heat levels. Many feature a Low/Medium/High setting, with some offering digital thermostats. A good example is the popular De’Longhi Full Room Radiant Heater which features a digital thermostat.

Are Electric Fireplaces like Space Heaters?

Electric fireplaces are like space heaters in many ways and are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners for their convenience, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

Design and Installation

When it comes to design, electric fireplaces differ drastically from space heaters. In contrast, electric fireplaces are designed to mimic traditional wood-burning fireplaces, complete with realistic flames and logs. Electric fireplaces are hands down more aesthetically pleasing than space heaters.

Electric fireplaces are permanently fixed in place, except for an electric fireplace stove, which is portable. These types of fireplaces look like real wood stoves with realistic-looking flame.

Space heaters also come in various shapes and sizes – from wall units to portable units that you can move around the house. Many have a simple design that is not as aesthetically pleasing, but unlike fireplaces that are mostly fixed in place, space heaters are more portable.

Additionally, installing an electric fireplace may require significant electrical work, while most space heaters simply plug into an outlet or require minimal installation.

Heating Power

Electric fireplaces produce more consistent temperatures than most space heaters, making them great for heating larger rooms or even entire homes. Space heaters typically only provide enough heat for one room and must be monitored closely so as not to overload circuits in your home.

Safety Features

Another benefit of electric fireplaces is that they offer several safety features that aren’t available on space heaters. For instance, many models feature childproofing technology that prevents curious little hands from getting too close to the flame or heating element when the fireplace is in use.

Wall-mounted electric fireplaces also have a glass front that remains cool to the touch, making them safe for kids and pets. However, electric fireplaces aren’t risk-free; some electric fireplace models’ heating vents on the sides or front can still get hot.

Additionally, many electric fireplaces have sensors that detect if something is blocking their air intake vent (like furniture) and will automatically shut off if this happens.

Space heaters are also safe, with safety features like anti-tip emergency shut-off and cool to the touch housing. The safest space heaters include oil-filled radiators and infrared heaters.

Are Electric Fireplaces Space Heaters?

Although electric fireplaces and space heaters may use similar technology, they aren’t the same.

For instance, a few types of space heaters can be moved to any room or outdoors with dexterity and skill; In addition to this maneuverability advantage, these portable units can oscillate side to side, which allows them to generate more efficient warmth over an area significantly larger than what static electric fireplaces can provide in one spot all year round.

While convenient due to their portability and ease of storage when not in use, space heaters require adequate storage space. On the other hand, electric fireplaces are designed to be a part of your home decor and take up no extra room – they’re built right into walls! So if you don’t have much additional space for storing appliances or furniture, an electric fireplace could be just what you need.

Furthermore, these fireplaces come in various designs and colors, with customizable options like beautiful lighting. They’re even better at heating an area than standard space heaters!

Touchstone Fireplace

Are Electric Fireplaces Safer than Space Heaters?

Electric fireplaces are a great option over space heaters due to their construction, easy installation process, and versatility.

Space heaters may be positioned in small spaces, leaving them prone to damage or contact with children that could result in injury or fire hazards. Investing in electric fireplaces ensures peace of mind regarding your family’s safety and provides adequate warmth for those cold winter nights!

Despite a minimal risk of harm from space heaters, electric fireplaces are deemed much safer due to their installation process, which securely conceals any wires and circuitry. As an added precaution that ensures safety for those nearby and the surrounding environment!

When utilizing any heat source in a room, follow its instructions and installation process exactly. Make sure you don’t hang anything, such as clothing, over the heat source, and make sure it isn’t situated directly behind or next to any flammable materials.

Always consider the space surrounding the heat source, ensuring that people keep their distance from it. If you’re not in the room, turn off your heater for added safety measures–electric fires and space heaters should always be monitored closely when used!

Should You Get an Electric Fireplace or Space Heater?

Although similar, the installation process between electric fireplaces and space heaters is drastically different. Electric fireplaces are typically installed in media walls or on chimney breasts as permanent fixtures; having multiple of them in one room can look overwhelming.

Additionally, due to their looks, aesthetics, and applications of an electric fireplace, they’re pricier compared to space heaters. In contrast, space heaters are cost-effective and easily moved from room to room. They have a simple installation process and can be stored away when unused.

Despite the many benefits of space heaters, they also come with some drawbacks: an unattractive design that takes up too much physical space and potential safety risks to young children or pets getting too close for comfort.

Moreover, your portable space heater should be kept in an appropriate area when not being used. If you lack extra storage or don’t like spending much room on it, this may be a snag.

Electric Fireplace or Space Heater FAQs

When deciding between an electric fireplace or space heater, you will have some questions. Here are some of our frequently asked questions.

Is it cheaper to run electric fireplace or space heater?

Electric fireplaces typically use more electricity than space heaters, but they are also more efficient in heating a room. Space heaters are usually less expensive to purchase and operate, depending on their size and wattage. Both electrical appliances can use up to 1500 watts, depending on the model. Also, the cost of running an electric fireplace or space heater will vary depending on the cost of electricity in your area.

Does an electric fireplace actually heat a room?

An electric fireplace can effectively heat a room. Electric fireplaces produce considerable heat through ceramic heating elements or infrared quartz lamps. Modern electric fireplaces are designed to provide efficient and reliable heating for up to 400 square feet or supplemental heat for up to 1000 square feet.

What are the disadvantages of an electric fireplace?

The disadvantages of electric fireplaces include that they are not as effective at providing heat as a traditional wood-burning or gas fireplaces, require electricity to operate, and can be expensive to purchase and install. In some cases, they may not provide enough warmth for larger spaces over 400 square feet without the assistance of central heat.


So should you buy an electric fireplace or space heater? Electric fireplaces and space heaters are quite similar, yet their practicality, functions, installation processes, and desired outcomes differ. Space heaters are a more immediate solution as they can usually be installed quickly.

Choosing the right one for your house depends on your goal; electric fireplaces have longer-term benefits that space heaters cannot provide.

Electric fireplaces bring the charm and coziness of a traditional wood-burning fireplace and are also practical and space-efficient. Installing one will instantly upgrade your media wall or feature wall aesthetically.

Additionally, electric heating is more eco-friendly than other sources due to its reliance on electricity; when installed correctly, it can heat up an entire room quite efficiently!


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.